Coleridge, who was one of the country's
leading Romantic poets, was born at the vicarage of Ottery St Mary
was the 13th child of the Rev John Coleridge, and his early years
were spent in East Devon. A plaque in honour of the poet can be
found on the churchyard wall.
it is believed his childhood was not entirely happy, he nonetheless
looked back on it fondly in many of his poems.
Frost at Midnight, the bells of Ottery St Mary are remembered affectionately,
and the poem is a romanticised version of his early years.
a boy, he loved the countryside and often walked along the River
Otter. Coleridge is best remembered for his work, The Rime of the
Devon played quite an important part
in the life of a young Charles Dickens, and some of the people he
encountered here were later the basis of some of his quirky characters.
The link with Devon is most concentrated in Exeter.
parents lived in Mile End Cottage in Alphington for four years from
1839. The opening chapters in Nicholas Nickleby were written at
described Exeter area as "the most beautiful in this most beautiful
of English counties." It was in the 15th century Turk's Head
in the city centre, that he spotted an overweight boot boy - the
inspiration for The Fat Boy in the Pickwick Papers.
he based the sly Pecksniff, from Martin Chuzzlewit, on a resident
Dorset's Thomas Hardy used Exeter
in four of his novels, only he gave it the name of Exonbury. The
city is featured in The Trumpet Major, Jude the Obscure, A Pair
of Blue Eyes and The Woodlanders. Hardy visited Topsham, where his
close friend, Tryphena Sparks, is buried.
Happy memories of a holiday
in the area prompted Jane Austen to set her first novel in the county.
Sense and Sensibility, written in 1811, was set in the village of
Upton Pyne - around four miles from Exeter. The marriage of Elinor
Dashwood and Edward Ferrars was set in the village church. Jane
Austen also loved nearby Dawlish, which also gets a mention in Sense
Novelist RF Delderfield wrote many much loved books - including
To Serve Them All My Days, A Horseman Riding By, and God is an Englishman.
He was also the inspiration behind the first Carry On film, Carry
On Sergeant. RF (Ronald Frederick) Delderfield was born in London
in 1912, but his family moved to East Devon when he was 18. He continued
to live in Exmouth and surrounding area. He died of cancer at his
Sidmouth in 1972, aged 60.
Hoe, where Hardy sat and read the first instalment of the
newly published "Far From the Madding Crowd"
has connections right across the South West - including Plymouth,
which was the home of his first wife, Emma.
it was while passing through the city, at Plymouth Railway Station
- on New Year's Eve 1873 - that he noticed a billboard advertising
the Cornhill Magazine and its first instalment of Far From the Madding
bought a copy, and walked to Plymouth Hoe to read the opening of
his greatest novel. That was a happy memory from the city.
Plymouth also brought him sadness. His wife's untimely death in
1912 prompted him to go on a pilgrimage of the city, to trace the
places where she was brought up. He poured out his grief in a number
of his poems.
The novelist and hymn-writer lived
at Lewtrenchard, near Okehampton, for 43 years. He is best known
for the hymn, Onward Christian Soldiers, and also wrote the song
about Widecombe Fair. He was still writing right up to his death
at the age of 89 in 1924. His body is buried in the churchyard at
Best of the Rest...
Best known as
the author of Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe fell in love with Plymouth.
He came to the city on his Tour Through the Whole Island of Great
This is by no means a full listing, but it gives you an idea of
the role Devon has played in England's literary past.
literary tour is based on a book by former Devon journalist, Paul
Wreyford, who wrote "A Literary Tour of Devon."
The book is published by Orchard Publications of Chudleigh, South
Devon, price £4.95.